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Why I Hate Anime Dubs

I hate anime dubs.  I mean I really can’t stand them.  I’ve tried to watch one or two, and I always end up dropping it after a few episodes.  Subtitles are far better in my opinion.

Is this because I’m an elitist who thinks that the anime is only good in its native language?

Well… that’s true, but that’s not why I hate anime dubs.  It’s close, but not really.

Is it because I’m upset at the localizers for fucking up the dubs?

Well, I am, but that’s not why I hate anime dubs.

Is it because I think the subtitles are closer to the actual Japanese than the dubs are?

Well, they usually are, but that’s not why I hate anime dubs.

Why I hate anime dubs is very simple:  They don’t sound Japanese.

Almost all of the voice actors sound like Southern California valley girls.

Now, I’m not saying that I would prefer some kind of half-formed Engrish by some Japanese person who can’t speak English and is speaking phonetically.  That’s too far in the other direction, and clearly the voice actor should at least be fluent in the language.

But it’s very jarring to look at Japanese text, see Japanese landmarks, see people in Japanese clothes or school uniforms, cars driving on the right, pictures of Mt. Fuji, Tokyo, Osaka, etc…  and hearing American idioms voiced by actors with an American accent.

It just doesn’t work.  At all.

It’s truly so bad, that sometimes the voice actors actually don’t even know how to pronounce Japanese words and names when necessary.  They don’t pronounce the ‘r’s, right, the names are mangled, the Japanese words are mangled, and somehow this is an acceptable way of respecting the Japanese origins of these anime.

Give me a break.

But that leads back to the other points I mentioned above – American Japanese localizers and voice actors don’t respect the Japanese origins of anime.  They want to make it as relatable to Americans as possible (with a touch of removing Japanese cultural references that they find offensive), and in the process they completely (and deliberately) lose everything that makes it Japanese.  These are Japanese anime, set in Japan, voice by Japanese voice actors, written by Japanese mangaka, and it’s the height of disrespect to be treating the Japanese cultural origins of these anime like some inconvenient thing that needs to be edited out as much as possible.

Just once, once, I’d like to see an anime voiced by actors with a slight Japanese accent.

So in dub vs. sub, I’m strongly on the “sub” side, and the sad part is, I really, truly, wish it didn’t have to be this way.  But if this is what it takes to make anime more accessible to Western audiences… I’d rather it wasn’t.  The cost is too high.

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